There’s a new sound being broadcast out of Bee Cave that seeks to shine a light on Austin’s music culture. And it’s all running on solar power.
If you haven’t had a chance to tune into 100.1 FM you might not have noticed the toe-tapping sounds of real Americana music that Sun Radio is blasting on the air waves. We’re talking genres from folk to rockabilly, honky tonk piano to smoking hot guitar.
What began as an off-the-air, low power FM station broadcasting out of a studio above a quilting studio in Dripping Springs has turned into a fully solar powered radio station at the Hill Country Galleria that reaches all over Central Texas and beyond, thanks to the wonders of internet radio.
Daryl O’Neal, founder of the station, is still very hands on with the development and day to day operations around the station. His decades of expertise in radio has assisted Sun Radio countless ways, from the nitty gritty business side of running a radio station to putting on the many events the station is known for.
Texas Radio Live is one such event that happens weekly on Wednesdays down at Guerro’s taco bar. Since launching KDRP in 2009, he’s had a guiding mission behind each show and each song.
“The music is the star,” Daryl states as we talk early musical influences and what the station needed in the way of a DJ in the early months. “Growing up, the influence was that music. So to get a chance for us to be able to create a radio station to play the songs that we want to play — luckily the songs we play they appreciate … we’re getting a great reception.”
The question of who would be the patriarch DJ at the station was almost no question at all. When KUT disc jockey Larry Monroe heard of Sun Radio and their mission, he set up shop in front of their mics and the rest was history. He brought with him the art of radio, passing down his many skills behind the booth to the station’s DJs and fledgling interns, teaching them his many ways and skills behind the microphone.
Larry’s unexpected death in January led to the Larry Monroe Scholarship Fund, which seeks to give young Austinites interested in careers in broadcasting a chance to get up close and personal with the realities of radio.
“The music on the radio station really accidentally was my record collection, and then some of those really great disc jockeys like Jessie Scott and Larry Monroe embraced the music and it happened to be their music.”
Sun Radio has a loyal following around Texas and Austin, with a steadily growing presence online. The 17 volunteers that run the station do a lot to keep everything copacetic, but there’s always a need for new volunteers for key positions. At the moment the station is looking to hire underwriters and volunteers interested in sales, but check back on their website for what they need the most. For students looking to get into radio, this is an invaluable tool for getting a foot in the door.
“We’re radio of the people, by the people and for the people,” O’Neal goes on to state as we tour their fully-outfitted studio.
The radio station is beautifully outfitted with Texas music gear, guitars, homages to the guitar greats and plush seating for bands waiting to go live on air. Area businesses such as Musicians Woodshed contributed their services to the station, giving them state-of-the-art facilities with a uniquely Texas twist, complete with tasteful stained cedar walls.
Live bands make weekly appearances for shows and interviews, so take a stroll past the studio, just across the street from Whole Foods in the Hill Country Galleria to see who is in the booth.
And next time you’re looking for a truly Texas sound, turn your dial and tune into Sun Radio on 100.1 FM.